The Slow Death of a Parked Jet

Picture the scene – your dream car sitting in a car park or a dusty old garage unused for a long time. Days pass by, months and perhaps even years. Then suddenly, one day, you think of your car and wish to drive it again, to revel in its style, luxury and glory. You remove the car cover and your heart starts aching, doesn’t it? Now imagine this: you own a private jet and unfortunately you have to park it for an extended period of time. Can you imagine what happens next?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many owners to reluctantly reduce the amount of flying they normally do or, in some cases, stop flying their corporate jet altogether. Some owners simply think of this as “fire the pilot, park the plane” action, but this cannot be further from the truth. While getting your favorite car back in shape is something that you still can manage, restoring a parked aircraft is a whole new ball game. Correctly storing your jet is intrinsic to being able to quickly reactivate and place the aircraft back into service with minimal effort, cost and risk.

Short- and Long-term Aircraft Storage

Short- and long-term storage is defined by the aircraft manufacturer in the Aircraft Maintenance Manual and involves a process of installing aircraft covers and plugs to prevent the ingress of moisture, sand, dust and debris.
Short-term programs are designed to allow the aircraft to be quickly reactivated and are characterised by weekly checks and powering up systems, with some OEMs requiring periodic engine and APU runs.  Many such aircraft are parked on the ramp or in a hangar.

Long-term storage seeks to store the aircraft in a deactivated state with the engines and APU inhibited, systems deactivated, often with slave brakes and tires installed with the originals safely stored in a protective environment. The flight deck and passenger windows will be covered, the cabin will have sensitive materials removed and desiccants are used to remove moisture from the cabin air.  The aircraft  is often parked in a dry location or a hangar.

Time and Money Drainage

The ideal storage program reflects the amount of time that the owner expects the aircraft to be out of service (with the ability to shorten or lengthen this time period, as required), the environment  where the aircraft will be parked (on the ramp, in a hanger, in a dry or moist, hot or cold environment) and access to the maintenance support.  

Parking an aircraft without applying the OEM storage program risks serious and potentially expensive damage to the aircraft, its engines, APU and systems.

An excellent example of an owner not considering the impact of incorrectly storing their aircraft, a Bombardier Global was recently parked on a ramp for 18 months in a humid location. During reactivation of the aircraft, it was noted that the engines, APU and landing gear had to be removed and shipped to approved repair shops for inspection and repairs.  Significant corrosion was found on the lower fuselage, empennage and control surfaces, which resulted in costly structural repairs.  Due to a deflated passenger airstair door seal and a water leak at the baggage door, there was mold in the cabin and damage to avionics equipment due to moisture. Reactivating the aircraft was extremely costly, time consuming and preventable.

Completion Managers to the Rescue

Reactivating a parked aircraft is difficult if it has not been correctly stored and maintained. This situation requires an experienced team to assess the condition of the aircraft, establish the tasks to be performed and develop a work package that addresses the shortfalls, while ensuring that the OEM and regulatory authorities are satisfied that the aircraft is airworthy.
Camber Aviation’s team of experts has developed tailored storage programs, managed the storage period, overseen the aircraft removal from the storage process and their re-entry into service.  We have also recovered aircraft that have been parked for extended periods without adhering to a storage program. Our services have included assessing and developing a tailored work package, overseeing the performance of the minimum work to allow the aircraft to be ferried to an approved maintenance facility, obtaining the necessary flight permit and overflight approvals, contracting a ferry crew, negotiating the work package with the MRO and overseeing the work, including adherence to schedule, resolving issues and auditing invoices.
Next time you decide to store a car, consider designing its recovery plan yourself. As for your business jet, leave it to professionals.

“Recovery” is one of the words most often used when discussing COVID-19 and business aviation.  The pandemic has affected each of us in different ways.  For some of us, the pandemic provided an opportunity to re-evaluate and optimise our businesses.  Business aviation has stepped up during the crisis, saving time, money and, in some cases, lives.

Recovering business aircraft from the effects of the pandemic means putting your jet back into service efficiently so that your business can continue to grow.  Our “Saving Private… Jet” blog series will show you how innovation creates opportunities to create a much more capable and comfortable cabin by refurbishing your business jet.